The Met’s Fantastic New Frau

Metropolitan Opera House, New York: January 1, 2002–After the 1919 premiere of Die Frau Ohne Schatten (The Woman Without A Shadow), Strauss expressed his dissatisfaction with the work in a letter to his librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, in which he noted, among other things, that it “lacked the necessary lightness of touch.” Boy was he […]

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Gergiev and Toradze: 1; Prokofiev: 0

Carnegie Hall: December 15, 2001–Valerie Gergiev ought to be a master at Prokofiev’s music, as his numerous successful recordings of the composer’s operas and ballets attest. What a shock, then, to hear such indifferent playing and conducting when he, his Kirov Orchestra, and Alexander Toradze gave an all-Prokofiev program recently at Carnegie Hall. The opening […]

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Juilliard and Mahler “Resurrection” Triumph

Carnegie Hall: December 10, 2001–The Juilliard Orchestra and Choral Union under the direction of Jahja Ling presented an absolutely first-class performance of Gustav Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection.” A major test for any orchestra, only the slightest corporate timidity from the otherwise excellent winds and a touch of rhythmic unsteadiness in the strings in […]

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Magnificent Messiah in Montréal

Location: Salle Claude-Champagne, University of Montréal: December 6, 2001 If there are bragging rights in the world of Messiah performances, then Bernard Labadie and his Les Violons du Roy orchestra and chorus La Chapelle de Québec can claim a respectable share, owing to their outstanding rendition of the complete oratorio before a sold-out house last […]

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Christoph Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician

W.W. Norton and Co. (599 pages; Hardcover) Harvard professor and eminent Bach scholar Christoph Wolff’s new book Bach: The Learned Musician belongs in the library of anyone who enjoys reading musical biography. His compendious knowledge, not just of his subject, but also of Bach’s political, artistic, intellectual, and geographical environment allows him to demystify and […]

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